Print 21 comment(s) - last by RandallMoore.. on Jul 28 at 11:08 AM

The ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are fearful that Google Books could be used by employers and the government to track citizens.  (Source: Flickr)
Groups fear discrimination based on what people read

Google Books is an ambitious project which certainly seems like something that will better society by allowing free online access to everything from scientific texts to great works of literature.  However, some are fearful that it will be abused as a digital era tool by the government and companies to track users reading habits.

Reading up on job hunting?  Your employer might be interested in knowing that.  Reading up on Islam and chemical engineering explosives texts?  Your reading could be of innocent nature -- but it could still lead to government surveillance.  Such scenarios are just a few possibilities that the ACLU of Northern California, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Samuelson Clinic at UC Berkeley are fearful of.

These groups banded together, urging Google (PDF) to reduce its data retention of users' reading habits to 30 days.  Further the groups ask that Google allow users to easily delete their records and that the site offers more transparency about how the records are stored and used.

The letter states:

Under its current design, Google Book Search keeps track of what books readers search for and browse, what books they read, and even what they 'write' down in the margins.  Given the long and troubling history of government and third-party efforts to compel libraries and booksellers to turn over records about readers, it is essential that Google Books incorporate strong privacy protections in both the architecture and policies of Google Book Search. Without these, Google Books could become a one-stop shop for government and civil litigant fishing expeditions into the private lives of Americans.

The EFF is urging its supporters to follow in suit and send a letter to Google CEO Eric Schmidt on the issue.

Dan Clancy, engineering director for Google Books, has responded to the groups comments in a blog post.  He says that he cares deeply about respecting user privacy, but cannot implement final details until pending lawsuits by book publishers and other groups are resolved. 

He writes, "While we know that our eventual product will build in privacy protections -- like always giving users clear information about privacy, and choices about what if any data they share when they use our services -- we don't yet know exactly how this all will work.  We do know that whatever we ultimately build will protect readers' privacy rights, upholding the standards set long ago by booksellers and by the libraries whose collections are being opened to the public through this settlement."

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RE: Islam? Really?
By RandallMoore on 7/27/2009 3:41:57 PM , Rating: 1
I am offended you would even consider putting reading up on Islam and making bombs in the same sentence, let alone the same contex of negativity.

Well... If you are none of the kind then why get offended?

Why couldn't you just stick with something like, "I hate it that a lot of people relate "Islam" and "terrorist" without any pretenses."

Here is an example. I am white. I dislike that a lot of people think all white people are racists, rich, and have everything handed to them without hard work. It's a stereotype that doesn't apply to me, so I'm not crying about and getting offended.

RE: Islam? Really?
By smackababy on 7/27/2009 3:57:25 PM , Rating: 2
You're right. Thank you. I am glad you just rationalized, and made acceptable, racism.

RE: Islam? Really?
By RandallMoore on 7/27/2009 5:25:04 PM , Rating: 1
Idiots like you are one good reason that racism is still such a problem of modern society. If words hurt someone that much, then they have more problems than just sensitivity. I'm not saying racism or any other hurtful form of communication is acceptable. The point I'm trying to make is that people are WAY too sensitive these days. Guess what... Whenever I'm called "cracker", "redneck", "honky", "hick", or anything else I just laugh right along and keep on going. Know why it doesn't offend me? Because I am none of the kind.

If you want me to use your own logic then I would say that your user name "smackababy" endorses violence toward infants. Sounds ridiculous huh?

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